“We can get to know God through our personal experience: this is the great premise that sustains our mission.” It is a statement, originally made by Fr. Paolo Sottopietra, superior general of the Fraternity of St. Charles Borromeo, with which many parishioners of Santa Giulia, in Turin, would whole heartedly agree. It was at the parish that the celebration of the anniversary of the Fraternity took place, on the 16th of September: it was here that, symbolically, a new year began after the summer vacations. The moment was planned so as to be visible, as visible as the presence of the priests of St. Charles in this popular corner of Turin. It is a personal experience that the people of Santa Giulia are living in first person, thanks to a relationship with the priests that is never one directional; instead, the relation with them always takes the form of dialogue, confrontation, and common growth. You could see it during the celebration: from the testimony, to the Liturgy to the lighter moments together. The testimony was that of Fr. Paolo Sottopietra, in front of a crowded gym that hung on his words. It was the second time that he has visited Turin, another occasion to meet the community that has grown up around Fr. Atta, his companion from university and from seminary. “He is a friend with whom one can be serious in front of life,” underlines the pastor. His testimony develops around four points: the great wounds of the world in which we live; the sense of mission in such a world and a possible response, using the example of the mission in Prague; and finally, the question: what is the task that links us together? He spoke for an hour, giving numerous concrete examples, many which come from the two trips around the globe that Fr. Paolo has recently taken, and delving deep into various aspects of the period that we are living.
And after the witness, there was the Mass, which has become one of the moments most lived and participated by the community. The other moment are those get-togethers, when the gym of Santa Giulia, every first Sunday of the month, opens its doors to all of the families who want to share lunch and an afternoon together. The Saturday of the celebration of the Fraternity was no different: some mothers of the parish prepared a hot dinner, others brought dessert or drinks. There were no tables, but everyone ate on their feet, talking, sharing about their lives, and getting know the seminarians that accompanied Fr. Paolo to Turin (among whom was Marek, a familiar face for Santa Giulia, because of the year he spent at the parish). These young men made new acquaintances and reconnected with old friends, recounted their experience and manned the book tables which offered books and invitations to gestures of the St. Charles. The party was brought to a close by Los Cantineros, the band created by Fr. Stefano. He could have been a chef or a musician, but now he lives for this mission at Santa Giulia, “in order to build,” as Fr. Paolo reminded us, “a concrete human space where the wounds that man carries can be cared for.”